The U Department of Theatre presents “Up (The Man in the Flying Chair)”



Cast of “Up (The Man in the Flying Chair)”

By Sara Wilcox

The department of theatre at University of Utah is proud to present the dramatic comedy “Up (The Man in the Flying Chair).” Written by Bridget Carpenter, this story exhibits both the freedoms and dangers of following an impossible dream.

“Up (The Man in the Flying Chair),” directed by the head of the Actor Training Program Chris Duval, is based on a true story about a Vietnam veteran named Larry Walters who is now a truck driver. On July 2, 1982, Larry attached 45 helium-filled weather balloons to a lawn chair and rose 16,000 feet above the ground. His adventure began in his backyard in San Pedro, California where he then drifted into controlled airspace near Long Beach airport. Walters was a spectacle to commercial airlines who saw him drift by. Today he’s doing his best to hold onto his dreams and keep the faded memory of his adventure alive.

Carpenter tells Larry’s inspirational story by focusing on the strain between hope and despair. Duval explains, “I love how we get to see inside Walter’s mind as he’s chasing a dream of who he is. He creates an environment that doesn’t sacrifice the communal nature of making theatre — the inherent love of art making. Theatre must always retain its joyful attitude.”

Duval hopes to encapsulate what it means to pursue one’s dream even in the face of uncertainty and the unknown. Having the courage to do so is an important lesson that needs be to learned now more than ever.

Eugene Register-Guard describes “Up” as “[a] brilliant play…original, poignant, moving, sad and funny. I have rarely sat in a theater audience that laughed so hard at one moment and, at the next, sat so still you’d swear you could hear the actors’ hearts beating together on stage.”

Showtimes for “Up (The Man in the Flying Chair)” will be held March 9-11 and 15-17 at 7:30 pm. There will also be a matinee showing on March 17 at 2:00 p.m. The production will be in Studio 115 of the PAB (Performing Arts Building). Parking is available in the visitor’s lot to the south of the theater, at Rice-Eccles Stadium or in President’s Circle.

General admission tickets can be purchased for $18. U faculty and staff can purchase them for $15. Students at the U can get in free with their UCard and all other students can purchase tickets for $8.50 with a valid student ID. Tickets can be purchased online at, by calling 801-581-7100 or at the Performing Arts Box Office at Kingsbury Hall. The show is recommended for people ages 14 and up.